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March 19, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-19

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6A - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wet t-shirt contest anyone?
Enrique neither
sexy nor loveable

I'm not cryine hone allerges!
Pinata is soulful
and introspective


the Lo
his re
six ot
all, Igl
ues to
for fam
the bra
and ho
tion of
the "D
be suc

nish star doesn't hut Iglesias's perpetual inter-
view commentary (in which he
ring the heat on obsesses over maintaining his
popularity through hit-making)
Sex + Love' highlights his recent shortcom-
ings. For a pop artist so fixated
BY GREG HICKS on success, there's an unhealthy
DailyArts Writer level of irony in electing The
Cataracs to lead the production
kfiring, try-hard antics of Sex + Love. Short of moderate
proven to be mediocre sales from "Slow Down" by Sele-
ds of boosting sales for na Gomez, the production duo's
e Igle- work hasn't synthesized a hit
but that since 2011's Dev-craze - which
t stop explains the album's dated elec-
atin pop $ex+ Love tro dance-pop sound that has
from dwindled in demand over the
oning Enrique past year.
putation Iglesias If Iglesias is determined to
there's ride the Top 40 bandwagon,
g left Universal Republic at least ride the wagon carry-
ng. With ing Dr. Luke and Max Martin,
single with all the other chart-thirsty
scraping the Top 40 and artists. "Heart Attack" essen-
her promotional singles tially mimics Martin's "I Knew
reaching the Hot 100 at You Were Trouble" build any-
esias desperately contin- way - quality pending. In fact,
cling to his Euphoria-style given the overall lack of concern
te renewal. The stripping, regarding production recycling,
as, the panties, nightclubs it's a peculiar musical phenom-
use parties have no inten- ena that RedOne is absent from
renouncing their part in the record. For being dumped
irty Dancer"-singer's aes- by Iglesias and Lady Gaga in the
>. same year, 2014 must be a rough
s alone wouldn't normally one for the RedOne.
h an extended critique, The album's 11 artist features

make this group effort nearly
David Guetta-worthy. "I'm a
Freak," "Let Me Be Your Lover,"
and "I Like How It Feels" all fea-
ture the egregious "Pitbull," and
- lest it need repeating again -
end the Pitbull fetish, Enrique.
It's gaudy. It's ineffective. It's
Incessant amounts of audi-
ence pandering make Sex + Love
a slosh of provocative, sappy,
incoherent material: raunchy
dance tracks ("Turn the Night
Up," "I'm a Freak") followed by
Spanish guitar ballads ("Loco",
"El Perdedor") whose sole pur-
pose is credibility renewal, by
way of reenacting the perfor-
mances of the former Enrique,
Iglesias. The Kylie-collaborative
ballad, "Beautiful," doesn't rise
to its two high-sensation sing-
ers. For two voices so remarkably
distinct, it's beyond senseless
to iron out the individuality of
Kylie and Iglisias's voices into
a watery, autotuned, Imogen
Heap knockoff.
The Latin pop sensation's
counterproductive musical
efforts are soon to leave his
narcissistic tank burning off its
last few drops of fuel. Sex + Love
doesn't always equate to Sales +
Likeability, Mr. Iglesias.

lence from
Freddie Gibbs,
the Gary,
street rapper is
evident on his
latest release,
Pinata, a
17-song collab-
oration album

Daily Arts Writer
"I did not give a single solitary
This proclamation of ambiva-

Freddie Gibbs
and Madlib
Madlib Invazion

with the pro-
ducer Madlib. The two seem to
be an odd match on paper. Gibbs
is a deep-voiced former hustler
whose gritty rhymes sound like
completely true recollections of
his troubled past. Madlib is one
of rap's eminent weirdos, he is a
creative genius best known for
working with MF DOOM and the
late J. Dilla. Madlib's production
history is as diverse as it comes,
and his use of chopped-up, sped-
up and slowed-down jazz sam-
ples makes his beats formidable
to rap over. Gibbs rises to the
occasion and across this joint LP,
he consistently provides top-tier

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lyricism and gritty storytelling
over unconventional yet engag-
ing production.
Piata is a deeply nostalgic
album filled with tracks that
reflect on Gibbs' past. Countless
criminal offenses are recounted
throughout the album, from
armed robbery to drug dealing,
but rather than feeling fabricat-
ed, each story sounds personal,
and all too true. "I reminisce on
all the crazy shit we did," Gibbs
rhymes on "Deeper," before
retelling the experience of the
woman he loves having another
man's baby. Even when describ-
ing having his heart broken in
great detail, Gibbs maintains
his credibility as a brutally hon-
est gangster. Gibbs' greatest
strength as an emcee is being
relatable, and even his darkest
tales of death and drug dealing
resonate with the listener.
The lyrical content of Pinata
invokes a visceral response.
Gangster rap is not typically
known for emotional honesty,
and Gibbs trades braggadocio
for introspective thought. The
presence of money, crimes,
women and drugs is visible
throughout Pinata, but Gibbs,
unlike many of his peers, does
not glorify or condemn his past
actions. This comes from an
older man's perspective on life,
perhaps, and Gibbs, at 31, has
seen enough of life to be jaded.
At times, he sounds exhausted
in his raps, world-weary from
his life experiences. This is not
to say that Gibbs lacks sufficient
energy when appropriate - his
manic smoker's anthem teams
him up with an excitable Danny
Brown and Gibbs holds his
own against the spastic Detroit
emcee. Gibbs also showcases his
laid-back flow on several intro-
spective tracks, and his hard-
ened voice is one of rap's most
distinctive, which only adds to
his charisma behind the mic.
Where he really shines, how-
ever, is on the venomous "Real,"
the sharply worded diss track
aimed at Gibbs' former boss,
Jeezy. "Real" is a breath of
fresh air - the rare diss track
that pulls no punches and goes
directly at its target. Gibbs
exposes Jeezy's shady business
practices, cowardice and lack of
street credibility, calling him a
fraud and a liar. "Just a whole
lot of rapping, but no mother-
fucking action" is a strong claim
to make, but Gibbs backs up his
vicious rhymes with his own
credibility, making "Real" one
of the hardest battle rap songs

since Nas' legendary "Ether,"
proving that at his best, Gibbs'
sheer talent measures up to the
Gibbs' realness sets him
apart from his peers. His deci-
sion to shun major labels and
stay independent bolsters his
credibility as his own man, and
Pinata is a celebration of his
authenticity and a takedown of
other rappers' phoniness all in
one. On "Uno," Gibbs criticizes
sellout rappers and those who
seek fame.
Gibbs delivers
a compelling,
"Rapper reality shows, y'all
just attention whores / Don't
give a fuck if I set a record or
win awards / I'm just blessed to
be out here living life."
Gibbs is respected enough in
the industry to have guest spots
from gangster rap pioneers Rae-
kwon and Scarface, and he goes
toe-to-toe with both. Other fea-
tures on the album come from
younger acts like Earl Sweat-
shirt and Mac Miller, who have
also made a shift to introspec-
tive, avant-garde raps over the
last several years. Madlib's
expansive production ties the
whole package together. Beats
drift from funk to R&B and back
again, giving Gibbs and com-
pany opportunity to showcase
their lyrical talents.
Pilata is a rare modern rap
record that combines in-your-
face intensity with reflective
honesty over beats that sound
like nothing else being pro-
duced today. With Gibbs' cha-
risma as an emcee, it is easy to
overlook Madlib's contribution
to the album. The production is
steeped in nostalgic crate-dig-
ging with a contemporary flair,
and the diverse soundscape
elevates Gibbs' lyrical output,
pushing him to new levels of
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are
rap industry outsiders known
for their fierce independence,
and their creative freedom to
make the music they want to
pays off on the collaborative
album brimming with compel-
ling stories of sobering violence
and personal triumph.

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